Hector’s dolphins and their close relative the Maui’s dolphin live only in New Zealand and are both the smallest and rarest marine dolphins on earth. Entanglement in gill and trawl nets has devastated Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins to near extinction and is killing them faster than they can breed.
Since the introduction of nylon filament nets in the 1970s, Hector’s dolphin numbers have dropped from 29,000 to less than 7,000. The situation for Maui’s dolphins, a subspecies of Hector’s dolphins, is even worse. More than 90% are already lost. With just 55 survivors older than one year and less than 20 breeding females, Maui's dolphins are facing imminent extinction.
Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins breed very slowly. Even under ideal circumstances a population of 100 individuals can only grow by two animals a year at the most.
Saving this species is a race against time that can only be won if fishing-related mortality is prevented. For more than a decade, marine biologists and conservationists have called for a New Zealand-wide ban on gillnets, and for the careful management of other threats, such as pollution, marine mining, tidal power stations in prime dolphin habitat, aquaculture and others.
Hector’s dolphins continue to decline because protection measures are inadequate. Unless things change, the species will become extinct. In the absence of fisheries bycatch, Hector’s dolphins could recover to at least half of their original population size within decades.
Let's see if we can reach 18000 signatures - that's more than one for each dolphin that could be alive within a matter of decades if nets didn't kill them.
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Thank you for your support for these animals, who are in so much trouble!